After getting through high school you may think that you know all there is to know about how to study. But courses in college require a new and different approach. College students are often expected to automatically know how to study so your instructors may not even think of giving out study tips.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of tips and ideas that might work well for you.
1. Plan your time
Keep a calendar and be sure to pencil in regular study time. Waiting until the last minute won’t work no matter what you think. Then be sure to stick to your calendar and study. Taking regular breaks during a study session is also going to work better than trying to concentrate for hours without a break. As to the best time of day to study, researchers have found that you will remember information better when you study it just before going to sleep.
2. Break it down
When you’re studying a subject that’s new or difficult, break it down into parts and tackle each section at a time. Look at the way the information is broken out in your textbook as a clue on how to do this. This practice is called, “chunking” and it’s been proven effective by psychologists. Just think about it, isn’t it easier to remember a phone number when you break it down into sections of 3 or 4 numbers?
3. Head to the children’s section
When subjects are really complicated for you, see if you can find a children’s book or encyclopedia that explains the subject. It could be just what you need to get started.
4. Test yourself
Test yourself on the material on a regular basis. That way you’ll be ready for the real thing. Here, again the textbook can give you lots of questions to work on. They are usually listed at the end of each chapter.
5. Write it down
There really is a connection between your hand and your brain. When you write something down, you’re more likely to remember it.
6. Speak it out loud
When you have to memorize a lot of information, speak it out loud. Apparently, this trick works even if you just mouth the words. You’ll get the most benefit if you only speak the words that you’re interested in remembering rather than reading an entire chapter out loud.
7. Explain it to a friend
I find that if I can explain a concept to someone else, then I understand it better. That’s one reason why I worked as a tutor in my early college years. There’s just something about helping someone else understand a concept that ups your game and sharpens your understanding.
8. Make connections with a Mind Map
Our brains process visual information faster than text. Mind Mapping is a way to visually plot out complex concepts to help you learn. Rather than just reading, Mind Mapping will help you engage with the information, use your creativity and increase your retention.
9. Review often
Go over the textbook material and your class notes often. The more times that you review, the more you engrain the information into your brain. The concept was explained by University of Waterloo Counseling Services in the article, “Curve of Forgetting.” Research has proven the value of reviewing. Studies show that after listening to a one-hour lecture, a little bit is lost each day. By day 30, only 2- to 3 percent of the lecture is retained. (Isn’t that about midterm time?)
“If you don’t review, you will need to spend 40-50 minutes re-learning each hour of material later – do you have that kind of time? Cramming rarely stores information in your long-term memory successfully, which makes it harder to access the material for assignments during the term and exam preparation,” the article said.